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I’m just back from the Harvard Medical School publishing course and, like everyone else who attended–faculty and participants alike–buzzing with excitement. The e-mail I received last night from one of my book writing students, Abby Rodman, sums up the experience well:
“I didn’t anticipate how exciting this conference would
be. The energy, intellect and talent that filled the ballroom at the Copley Plaza was electrifying. Doing the Shameless Pitches exercise, I thought my heart would beat out of my chest. Seventy seconds to get interest in my book…? It turned out to be one of the highlights. It challenged me, for the first time, to REALLY put my book idea out there.
“Getting positive feedback from agents, publishers and coaches couldn’t have felt better! A few wanted to speak to me about my book and I made some great connections.”
So, what’s a shameless pitch? Describe your book concept in 70 seconds or less. Oh yes, and be sure to make clear who your audience is, what’s unique about your book, why people will read it, why you’re the one to write it and what kind of platform you already have as an author.
A panel of experts–literary agents, a publicist, publishers (acquisitions editors), editors and writing coaches–in their fastest and, hence, most illegible script–let you know how you fare on the above criteria.
Who would subject themselves to such torture? Apparently a good fifty or so aspiring authors who know the feedback will be instrumental in refining the concept of their book. The exercise also pays off when an agent writes, “Please see me. I’m interested” at the bottom of the page.
Some of the takeaways I heard from participants:
If you attended the conference, what’s your takeaway? What insights did you have? Did being at the conference clarify your book for you? Or send you back to the drawing board? What’s your biggest question, now that you’re back?